What Can Make You a Wolf on Wall Street?


In class today we talked a lot about addiction, but mainly addictions in gambling. This was described as a gamblers fallacy. We discussed how people like to feel some control when they gamble. All of this made complete since to me, but it also got me thinking how this could apply to other aspects in life. How could this same theory apply to some other activity in life? For unknown reasons to me the movie The Wolf of Wall street came to mind

The movie The Wolf of Wall Street is about a stockbroker’s career in New York City. In this film the stockbroker, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, has a firm that is deep in corruption and fraud on Wall Street. This will bring the entire firm down by the end of the film. What stood out to me was how he got people to invest with his company. These people came from different walks of life. Some were rich and some were more middle class. I wondered what would make these people invest in sketchy deals or even invest money they did not have. I then remember the since of control people like to feel when gambling. In the movie Leonardo gave his costumers a since of control when he asked them to invest thousands of dollars. In class we call this competency, the idea that people prefer to gamble when they feel in control, even when it is a complete illusion.  He made them believe they were gaining something by doing this deed. He painted them a picture of all the great things that could happen. They were told of all the people that invested and are constantly gaining money. They were told they could have more. I think of this as being an example of availability. In class we discussed how casinos did this by showing the public all of the winners. There was also a great deal of representatives.  The investors probably ran the numbers in their head a dozen times, but Leonardo gave these people possibilities and that is what sold them every time.

n the movie all I could think about is how everyone was taking shortcuts to get what they wanted. As were learned in class, these shortcuts, or heuristics are okay some of the time, but are not always the most accurate choice. The opposite of a heuristic is an algorithm. Algorithms are more formula based. If the people in the movie had did things more by the book they might have had better success in the end. Overall I thought it was interesting how the same cognitive things that may cause others to gamble, can also cause other risky behavior in our lives. Like the bad investments in The Wolf of Wall Street.

Reisberg, D. (2012) Cognition: Exploring the Science of the Mind. 5th edn. United States: W. W. Norton & Company.


1 thought on “What Can Make You a Wolf on Wall Street?

  1. Samantha Worman

    This is a really interesting way to connect this movie to what we’ve learned in class. I really enjoyed reading it and refreshing what we learned over the past week with Gambler’s Fallacy. From now on when I watch this movie I will be thinking abut this specific lesson from class! It wasn’t something that I had though about before, so thank you!

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